The prospect of leaving

Yesterday afternoon, as I was checking my phone while lying on bed inside my dorm room, still wearing the same clothes I had when I did rounds that day, my roommate barged in, as if in a hurry. I felt spent, with all of me, hands and heart, feeling the heavy burden of the month that was.

“You’re not going home?” Tom asked—home being Quezon City, where my brother lives.

“Maybe later, when the traffic dies down,” I said. 

I watched him pack a few clothes and stuff them into his red backpack. He arranged some of his clothes in the closet before closing it with a sense of finality.

“When are you going on duty?” I asked.

“August 10 pa. Leave ko na kasi.” 

“Wow!” was all that I could muster, until I had gained the courage to ask him where he was spending it. I knew I would falter somehow—my envy would make itself manifest. He told me, and I kept a straight face. “Oh, the whale sharks,” I said, to make steady conversation.

Then I desperately wished for a chance to leave the hospital, too, even for just a few days, to recover something of my life that I’m losing because of my medical training. It is a price I pay for the many, many things I’m gaining and learning, like saving lives. 

As he headed out, excited by the foreign prospect of being away, I wished him safe travels. I continued lying on bed, killing time by doing nothing else but stare into the blank space that grew with the setting of the sun. I was so tired that I fell asleep, wishing for myself a chance, like Tom’s, to leave my real life for a few days of respite. When I woke up it was already evening. It was only then when it finally dawned on me that August is my leave month, too. 

And on the third week, I will not be reporting for duty. No charts, no patients, no urgent calls. Work is grace, but so are vacations. The Lord is good.

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